Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles
This past spring, my father-in-law planned and planted a huge garden in his backyard and he’s been reaping the benefits all summer long. Each week, he brings us an assortment of fresh produce that he’s picked and, like any garden, he always has an abundance of zucchini to share. I have been using them for some simple roasted side dishes, but I wanted to try something a little different with this week’s zucchini. I wasn’t in the mood for zucchini bread, so I went searching for some ideas and stumbled upon a recipe for zucchini pickles. Even better – they are refrigerator pickles, which means they are quick, easy and incredibly tasty.
I first made bread and butter refrigerator pickles a number of years ago and absolutely fell in love with the process; I made refrigerator dill pickles last year, as well.
I have always preferred bread and butter pickles over dill pickles when putting them on a sandwich or hamburger; the combination of sweet and tangy is amazing and it can turn the most boring turkey sandwich into something worth savoring. So I was thrilled when I saw that these zucchini pickles were a riff on the classic bread and butter flavors.
The zucchini pickles turn a fantastic shade of yellow in the spice mixture and look absolutely gorgeous floating in a glass jar. The crushed red pepper flakes are optional, but if you like some heat, I would definitely include them. You can use these zucchini pickles anywhere you would typically put regular pickles – sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs… anywhere!
If you have zucchini coming out of your ears this summer and are tired of making zucchini bread, these pickles are an awesome choice!
One year ago: Pretzel, Peanut Butter & Chocolate Malted Milkshake
Two years ago: Apricot Cream Cheese Babka
Five years ago: Salted Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Watch How to Make Refrigerator Zucchini Pickles:
Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles
- ½ cup (125 ml) water, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 medium zucchini, about 1 pound, sliced ⅛-inch thick
- 1 small yellow onion, sliced ⅛-inch thick
- 3 ice cubes
- 2 cups (478 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) ground mustard
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) mustard seed
- ¾ teaspoon (0.75 teaspoon) turmeric
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) crushed red pepper flakes, optional – adds some heat!
- In a small bowl, stir together the water and kosher salt until the salt has dissolved.
- Place the zucchini and onion into a gallon zipper freezer bag. Add the water and salt solution, the ice cubes, and additional cold water to cover the zucchini and onions. Stir to combine. Seal the bag and allow to sit for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, sugar, mustards, turmeric and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to be sure that the sugar dissolves, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- Drain the zucchini mixture in a colander and remove all excess moisture, either by putting it through a salad spinner or rolling it up in a clean kitchen towel lined with paper towels.
- Place the zucchini mixture in a large jar (or multiple smaller jars) and pour the pickling liquid over top, ensuring that all of the zucchini mixture is covered in liquid. Place the lid on the jar and refrigerate for at least 1 day before serving. The pickles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
I’ve made these pickles 3 times now. They are delicious and easy to make.
So simple and so delicious
Outstanding, anyone who has tried these always asks for more! Simply delicious, thanks for sharing.
Hi! I’m wondering if this recipe can be made and frozen? Thanks so much!
This recipe sounds delicious! My mother used to make freezer pickles with the same ingredients. Do you think you could use this recipe to make freezer zucchini slices?
Made this recipe just as you posted two weeks ago…let sit for 2 days. They are now gone and am making another batch today….family loved. Thanks for the recipe
I was wondering if you can water bath can this recipe I like it as a fridge recipe but don’t have much room in my fridge?
Can swerve be used instead of sugar to make these sugar free?
I use sweeteners instead of sugar in my refrigerator cucumber pickles. I plan to use it as well for these squash pickles.
Could you use green house cucumbers in your refrigerator dill and bread and butter pickles?
I don’t see why not!
I added summer squash and fresh red pepper for color! Everyone absolutely loves them! Great on sandwiches!
yum, yum, yum, have made many times before and will make again, everyone I know loves them.
Try adding some coriander seeds instead of mustard seed, and no mustard. It’s the best with cucumbers. :)
I water bath for 15 minutes to preserve for pantry
Six stars….This was absolutely amazing! Put it together yesterday, served today with pulled pork sandwiches and Cole slaw. Delicious.
This is a great recipe. Directions are clear and the “pickles” came out delicious. I look forward to making more in the future.
Can you can this? Is it shelf stable?
Thank you for this recipes. I made 2 batches, first without fresh chopped thai chilli and second batch with extra thai chilli. Planning to make more of this.
My daughter and I made these and everyone loves them. My grandson even drank the juice. The juice is awesome for salad dressing.
Super easy recipe! I cannot handle consuming apple cider vinegar but I have already eaten an entire jar of these! Trying cucumbers next.
Can i use pickling spice and white vinegar
Hi Karen, If you’d like to, I don’t see why not!
I had made it and everyone loved it
Cant wait to make these.
I used white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar
Is it common to have such a strong smell of vinegar
I have made these SWEET AND SPICY ZUCCHINI REFRIGERATOR PICKLES very often. We love them on sandwiches! My favorite is roasted turkey, mayo and these pickles, they are quite addicting. If you are hesitant to make these, don’t be, they are great. Thanks for such a wonderful recipe. :)
Recipie states to add ice cubes and additional cold water to zucchini and onions, however, I did not see how much cold water to add. Thanks.
Hi Jane, You should add enough cold water to ensure the zucchini and onions are covered.
Made the zucchini pickles today and can’t wait to have some with dinner tomorrow we have heaps of zucchini’s growing so another great recipe to use them up.
These are so yummy we ate very quickly two jars so I was wondering if I could use the pickling liquid again…?
Thanks for he recipe and thanks for your help!
Hi Fanny, I know many people have re-used the pickling liquid, so it should be fine. So happy you’ve enjoyed them!
I made your pickled zucchini recipe with the addition of extra pepper flakes ,(made them a tad over medium spicy) And also added a decent amount of fresh tarragon from my herb garden. They came out Absolutely Delicious !! 😆😆😆 Thanks for the recipe 👍🏼
Can these be canned?
Hi Deb, I would not recommend canning them; the recipe is intended for short-term, refrigerated storage, not long-term storage at room temperature.
major, major hit at potluck and barbecue, people Loved them , I made 2 quart jars and there wasn’t one left!
Making these as I type this!! The brine smells sooooo good!! I have so many zucchinis coming out of my garden! I plan to make several batches :)
Why not save some dish washing and mix the salt and water right in the gallon ziplock? I also added the juice of a small lime to the bag with the salt, water, zukes and onion.
Thank you these are fabulous. I made a single batch just to try them out but now I am going to make a double they are that good. My family loves them too.
These pictures look great! I can’t wait to try making this at home. Hopefully it turns out looking as good as what you’ve posted as the end product! I usually don’t like zucchini very much but thats usually because my mum cooks it til its as soft as a pillow. Thank you for sharing this!
Can these be canned in a water bath canner? I made these and they are wonderful, but I don’t have room in my fridge and would like to preserve them.
Hi Patsi, This recipe has not been tested and approved for canning for long-term storage, so I cannot safely recommend using a water bath canner and storing them at room temperature.
Check out the Ball Blue book there are some decent zucchini recipes that have tested for water bath canning.
Can I use honey in place of sugar? I cannot eat sugar for medical reasons. I use to make these years ago and loved them!
Hi Louise, I’ve never used honey for a canning recipe, so I can’t say for sure how well it would work, but let me know if you try!
I would be cautious about using unprocessed honey as there is a very small risk of botulism. It’s one reason they say not to give honey to infants..
I have just made the pickles but it seems a bit darker in colour than your photo. I haven’t tasted it yet as it needs to sit for a day as you suggested. I really hope it works as like so many I have zucchini abundant.
I have made a cucumber version of this and love it…in that recipe, i rinse the cukes after an hour or 2 in the salt.. you don’t mention this… i am making these zucchini ones and will rinse them prior to putting them in the spicy tangy juice. don’t expect them to last very long in my fridge if they are like the cucumber ones…
This recipe is perfect for a change of pickles ;-) I’m curious why the ice cubes in the freezer bag?
Hi Lynn, Just keeps the water cold!
What are your thoughts on using Splenda instead of Sugar? Trying to make it lower in carbs? Thanks
Hi Lori, From my understanding, you can use Splenda as a 1:1 substitute for sugar in refrigerator pickles.
This is great! Where did you find a jar like that? I am looking for jar not too small or too large to take my noodle and bring it to work. The jar on picture is perfect what I have imagine. Thanks for the recipe. It’s delicious!
Hi Adeline, That is a Weck jar (http://weckjars.com) – they have tons of sizes! I bought mine at Crate and Barrel.
Have you ever used white vinegar in place of ACV?
Hi Derek, I have not, but I think it should work fine.
So just an FYI. I used white vinegar. I just tried them tonight and they were amazing. I am thinking of trying a hot water bath to can and store. They take up so much room in the fridge.
Should the seeds be removed from the zucchini?
Nope, that is not necessary. Enjoy!
Can you hot bath for later or does it have to be refrigerator
Can you use a mixture of yellow squash and the zucchini? How important is the turmeric ?
Hi Shirleen, You could use both yellow squash and zucchini. The turmeric adds a significant amount of flavor.
These look great! The use of zucchini is so interesting.
Those pickles look heavenly! I’m wondering, I tend to watch my sugar, do you think I can turn the recipe into Spicy Pickles, by leaving the sugar out? I really love spice, so I’m not worried about them being too hot, but as for everything else, would it throw the balance?
Thank you! And as always… love your recipes = )
Hi Jen, The flavor will obviously be impacted (I wouldn’t be as worried about the spice, but the overwhelming vinegar flavor), but I’m not sure beyond that. I haven’t tried to make these without any sugar, and I probably wouldn’t recommend omitting it completely. Try cutting it back and see who it turns out?
This sounds interesting. I never had zucchini pickles before. But let me ask you – how important do you think the onions are to this recipe? I (1) hate onions and (2) am allergic to raw onions (I know these are pickled but…).
Your baby is ADORABLE and I love seeing the pictures.
Hi Allison, The onion definitely adds flavor, but I think you could leave them out without an issue.
These sound fantastic! I also got a kick out of your source, The Register Guard, as it’s my hometown newspaper. I’ll definitely be trying these when my zucchini starts to overwhelm me. Thankfully I’m not at that stage yet. ;-)
I make a lot of pickles, but have never tried it using zucchini. I do have a lot of zucchini in the garden right now. I will need to give these a try.
I will have to try these as I have over 5 zucchinis sitting here at the moment . . . they exploded while we were away last week! Here’s a question maybe you can answer: what to do with a “newborn” sized zucchini. I have one that is THAT big! To me it sounds like a zucchini bread in the making as the seeds will be rather large. Also, have you made zoodles yet? I made a simple chicken parm, placed that on top of the raw zucchini noodles, covered the whole pan with tomato sauce and let it simmer stove-top until the zoodles were slightly tender. (I also put the lid on the pan.) SO delicious and quick to make. I think I could have doubled the “recipe” because my family ate it all and wanted more.
Hi Michelle, For the extra-large zucchini, I scoop out the seeds before slicing/shredding, etc. I made zoodles (just using a julienne peeler) and used them in a cold Thai salad with julienned cucumber, shredded carrots, cilantro, cashews and a spicy peanut sauce.
Is the recipe for the cold Thai salad in your recipe index? It sounds really good . . . great summer salad as a stand alone meal or paired with grilled chicken or shrimp.
It’s different, but yes, the one that I made recently I ate with both shrimp and chicken!
You have perfect time. I just picked 4 more zucchinis yesterday. There’s only so much zucchini bread you can make!
My Grandma used to make these!! She would also put green pepper slices in with the onions and zucchini. I will be making them today!
Such a great way to use up zucchini! I’ve been having a pickle craving too.
These look yummy! I’ve never experienced the zucchini surplus people always talk about, we never get enough here.
these look great! i make a similar recipe, but also include thin sliced hot banana peppers. the peppers give them a little kick!